Do Mixed Martial Arts Have Belts?

Last Updated: 20.06.19

 

The short answer to the question is no, but if you want to learn more about this subject, we have prepared an informative article below. Step aside from your MMA punching bag for a second if you want to find why there is no belt system for mixed martial arts and we’ll also let you know about the other belt systems that different martial arts have.

 

Why are there no belts for mixed martial arts?

Mixed martial arts are also known as MMA, and it is a combat sport in which two athletes try to achieve dominance over the other by using the tactics of striking, finishing holds, and control. The rules allow both combatants to use a variety of martial arts techniques including chokes, takedowns, kicks, punches, throws, and joint-locks.

The reason why there is no ranking of white, blue, purple, brown and black like so many other martial arts have is because since MMA is a combination of different martial arts, you could have a competitor who has a black belt in BBJ, a purple one in karate, and maybe some experience in judo.

The other competitor, on the other hand, could be a professional wrestler, a sport that does not have belts either, have a black belt in karate, and so forth. There is no way to standardize all that and create a ranking system that would be fair and relevant to the skills of the competitors.

With that said, in MMA competitors fall into two main groups: amateurs and professionals. From there, there is another group that separates athletes, mainly weight categories ranging from flyweight (up to 125 pounds) all the way to heavyweight (206-265 pounds). To add to that, there is also a strawweight category for women (106-115 pounds).

In order to achieve fair and balanced fights, most promotions will try to pair the opponents based on the experience that they have and their record. This is why you won’t see a fighter with a 10-0 record compete against someone that has a 1-3 record. So in a sense, even without a belt system, competitions still remain fair and each athlete can estimate his or her experience.

There are some schools or gyms that will offer some of their own belt ranks but they’re not official and are only used to motivate students who are used with a ranking system. In fact, most professional MMA coaches don’t agree with such practices.

If you are craving even more information, we have prepared a list showing you how much time it would take you to get a black belt in some of the most popular MMA fighting styles you can learn right now. As always, try to remember it is not always about getting the highest belt, but of conquering your limits and becoming a better and healthier individual.

Taekwondo

In order to achieve the top ranking in this Korean martial art, a dedicated student would need to be eligible for the 1st Degree Black Belt after around 3 to 5 years of hard work. Some schools might have the minimum time to achieve a 1st-degree black belt at 4 to 5 years instead.

You receive the black belt after passing a test, and you can take the test as many times as you need to. Generally, people don’t find the curriculum hard to follow which is why it shouldn’t be hard for a dedicated student to achieve a black belt.

The instructor will be the one who will know when a student is ready to pass the test since the test itself is merely a formality designed to verify if the instructor has managed to teach the student all that he or she needs to know.

As mentioned above, even if you fail the test at first, you can still use the mistakes you’ve made to make you a better taekwondo practitioner in the future.

 

Judo

Achieving a black belt in Judo can take anywhere between 3 to 6 years, depending on how committed you are to this art. In Judo, student ranks have colored belts which are followed by ten black belt “dans”, that rank from shodan to judan. To achieve the black belt, you need to develop one or more match-winning throws.

Getting the first dan in the black belt is only the beginning of becoming a true judo athlete, and it does not necessarily mean that the student is an expert since there are so many things to learn until you can reach the last dan.

With that said, as long as you commit to the sport, train consistently, and you are dedicated to your craft, you’ll find that getting a black belt is not as hard as you first thought. The key is to train consistently and compete every time you have an opportunity to do so.

 

Aikido

As long as you practice Aikido several times a week, you can achieve the first level black belt in around 4 to 5 years if you are diligent and committed to the practice. Unlike other martial arts, even if you are a good athlete and you feel ready, your instructor is the one who must let you take the exam and he or she will only do so if you are a good representative of the school.

Thus, you need to have the right mindset, not just physical prowess in order to achieve an Aikido black belt. The amount of time required varies from person to person, and while some have achieved it in 2-3 years, it is best to start with the idea that it would take you between 4 to 5 years so that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

 

Karate

Similarly to all the other martial arts we talked about above, there is no standard period of training time needed to achieve a black belt in Karate, but there are a few standard guidelines that most karate schools follow. Similarly, factors such as the frequency of training, and the age of the student can influence the time it takes.

As long as you take the time to attend your classes at least two times every week and on a regular basis, it should not take more than 5 years to earn your first black belt. Even if some students might get it faster, many Karate masters believe that a shorter time period will also reduce the spiritual growth and wisdom learned through training.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

We’ve left the hardest one for last since BJJ’s black belt is regarded as one of the hardest to achieve. This is also one of the reasons why this art is so respected since when compared to other martial arts where promotions can be achieved in short periods, the BJJ belt system is very difficult to progress through.

Even achieving the blue belt which is the next belt after the white one can take people anywhere from 2 to 5 years. To get the black belt, it would take a dedicated student as long as 10 years, sometimes even more. This is due to the fact that competitive performance is often times the ultimate factor for a coach when deciding to promote a student.

 

 

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